"That man has reached immortality who is disturbed by nothing material. " ~ Swami Vivekananda

Pilgrim Places

Vaishno Devi

The holy cave shrine of Mata Vaishno Devi is located at a height of 5,300 feet in a beautiful recess of the Trikuta mountains, forming a part of the lower Himalayas in Jammu and Kashmir.

The journey here takes you through awesome wilderness amidst snow- capped mountains and sprawling forests, to the shrine, sacred and mystical.

Every day of the year scores of devotees ascend steep pathways that cut across the hillside. A common faith among people is that goddess Vaishno Devi sends a 'call' to her devotees; and once heralded, the pilgrim finds himself compelled to march towards the holy shrine of the great goddess. It is believed that a supernatural power seems to draw pilgrims across the mountains, so they climb those great heights, step by step, chanting "prem se bolo, Jai Mata di". Even those who are unused to walking the slightest distances, accomplish the difficult ascent of innumerable stairs. Popular belief holds that anybody who walks the Himalayan trail to Mata Vaishno Devi's abode to ask for a boon does not return disappointed.

There are many who journey here year after year to pay obeisance regardless of their faith, creed or class, caste or religion, because Mata Vaishno Devi transcends all such artificial barriers.

Pilgrim Places

Kailash Yatra
Vaishno Devi
Legends of Kailash
Panch Kedar

As legend goes, more than 700 years ago, Vaishno Devi, a devotee of Lord Vishnu had taken a vow of celibacy. Bhairon Nath, a tantric, using his tantric powers, was able to see her going towards the Trikuta mountains and chased her. The goddess feeling thirsty at Banganga, shot an arrow into the earth from where water gushed out. Charan Paduka, marked by the imprints of her feet, is the place where she rested. The Goddess then meditated in the cave at Adhkawari. It took Bhairon Nath nine months to locate her, and this cave is called Garbh Joon. She kept 'Veer-Langur' on guard outside the cave and asked him not to allow Bhairon to enter the cave. When Bhairon Nath tried to force an entry to the cave, Veer-Langur offered resistance and a terrific battle started. Vaishno Devi blasted an opening at the other end of the cave with her trident when Bhairon located her.

Thereafter Devi took the form of goddess 'Chandi and beheaded Bhairon Nath, whose skull was flung up the mountain by the force of the blow and fell at a place now known as Bhairon Ghati. Beheaded Bhairon now prayed to Mata for mercy and was granted a boon of liberation. She said, "My devotees will visit your place after they have come to me for 'darshan'." The desires of devotees will be fulfilled, if they visit your place. A temple has been constructed at the spot where Bhairon's head fell. Accordingly, the pilgrims visit Bhairon temple after offering prayers at Mata's cave.


The Yatra
It is mandatory to obtain a slip from the Yatra Registration Counter at the Tourism Reception Centre, Katra Bus Stand, without which, crossing of Banganga check-post is not permitted. The yatra begins at Katra and pilgrims have to cover 13 km. of terrain on foot to reach the shrine. At Banganga, a kilometre away from the starting point is a security checkpost. After 6 km of trekking, you reach Adhkawari, the holy cave where Mata meditated for nine months. Most devotees catch a breath at Sanji Chatt after 9.5 km of walking. Accommodation is also available at this place. The shrine is just 3.5 km away. By showing your yatra slip at the registration office at the Bhawan, you are given a number, which will determine your place in the queue for darshan.

At the Bhavan there is provision for bathing, and for keeping your belongings in safe custody, as leather items are not permitted. Blankets are also available at a refundable deposit.

Prasad, "chunari" and coconuts can be bought from shops situated at the entrance of the Bhawan. In case of overcrowding, you might have to wait patiently in a queue according to your batch number. Before entering the cave, the coconut has to be deposited against a token. The whole valley reverberates with the chanting of "Jai Mata di".


According to legend, the boulder at the mouth of the holy cave is the petrified torso of Bhairon who was granted divine forgiveness by the benevolent Mata in his dying moments. Inside the cave, there are three natrual pindis of Maha Saraswati, Maha Lakshmi and Maha Kali which represent the creative, preservative and destructive aspects of the divine energy images of three deities - Mahakali, Maa Saraswati and Maa Lakshmi. The holy Ganga's cold and crystal clear water washes the lotus feet of the Mata's 'Pindian'. Previously the shrine had only one natural entry cave, but now two more exit caves have been constructed. Remember to collect your coconut here.

Bhairon Mandir
It is believed that the journey to Mata's shrine is complete only after visiting the shrine of Bhairon, 2.5 km from the Bhawan, on your way back. You have to collect your belongings before going to this shrine, as the return path from the Bhairon shrine joins the main path at Sanji Chatt.

Do's and Don'ts
Pithus (or porters) can be hired for carrying your luggage. Those who have problems climbing, can hire the services of a pony or dandi (palenquin). It is advised that you should avail of the services of only registered people, whether it be porters, pony or dandiwallas and keep their token for the time period they are engaged.


Missing persons can be located through the public address systems from the counters at Katra, Banganga, Adhkawari and Darbar.

The entire 13 km route is quite wide and tiled. Besides, the whole path is lit up every night by powerful sodium vapour lamps. Avoid overstraining on the climb. The track is preferable to the stairs.

Receipts for all payments made to the Shri Mata Vaishno Devi Shrine Board as well as private vendors are available and should be insisted on. Official rate lists for all services are available. Use only the donation boxes provided at various places by Mata Vaishno Devi Shrine Board. In case of donations at the donation counters of the Board at Katra (Central Office/ Vishram Ghar), Adhkawari, Sanji Chatt and various points at the Bhawan obtain a formal receipt. Note that donations to the Shrine are exempt from Income Tax under the Income Tax Act. Luggage and belongings should not be deposited with unauthorised persons or left unguarded at the bathing ghats. To maintain the sanctity of the place, please refrain fromn gambling, playing cards, smoking or chewing betel (Paan) at the Bhawan or en route. Do not stick posters or disfigure signboards, or litter anwhere. Containers have been provided for throwing rubbish and other waste. Please show all possible consideration to fellow pilgrims. Avoid playing transistors/tape recorders, or creating hindrance in movement along passage ways.


Amenities Offered
The whole route is swept and cleaned several times every day. Shelters and cafeterias are set up throughout the route. Pure vegetarian food is available at these outlets. Price charts are exhibited prominently. Drinking water has been made available all along the route, with water coolers and storage facilities. Public utilities with automatic flushing systems are located all along the track and at the Bhawan. Qualified doctors are available round the clock at the Primary Health Centre, Katra, Adhkawari and Bhawan. The Evening Clinic at Katra Bus Stand is open from 2 pm to 8 pm.

General Information

Yatri Niwas is managed by the Shrine Board. Various private hotels are also available, the room rent ranging from Rs.300/- per day to Rs.3000/- per day.

At Katra, there are several options: Yatri Niwas managed by the Shrine Board, rest houses maintained by the Jammu and Kashmir Tourism Department, other hotels. Sarais, managed by the Shrine Board offer free accommodation at Adhkawari, Sanji Chatt and Darbar. Dharamshalas, run by various organisations offer inexpensive accommodation to pilgrims.


How to Get There
Daily flights are available from Delhi and Srinagar to Jammu. These flights (Indian Airlines) connect Chandigarh and Amritsar on specific days of the week. Jet Airways also flies to Jammu from Delhi via Srinagar.

By rail, Jammu is directly connected with most major cities in the country.

Jammu is the terminus of a large number of Inter State Bus Services. Buses leave for Katra every 10 minutes from the main bus stand at Jammu between 5.30 am to 8.30 pm. JKSRTC runs buses and luxury coaches from the Jammu railway station to Katra. Private taxis are also available for hire between Jammu and Katra, from Jammu Airport, Jammu Railway Station and the

Tourist Reception Centre at Jammu.
Pilgrimage Centres Around Mata Vaishno Devi Shrine
Shri Raghunath Temple - Jammu
Darshani Darwaza
Banganga Temple & Bridge
Duja Darshan - Devamayi
Charan Paduka Temple
Shali Gram
Adi Kumari
Agar Baba Jitoo
Hathi-Matha Ascent
Sanji Chatt
Shri Raghu-Nath Temple - Katra
Bhumika Temple
New Cave.


Best Season
The shrine is visited throughout the year, but owing to snowfall in winter, it can get difficult. The heaviest rush is during the Navratra periods in March-April and September-October.

Light woollens required at night during the summer months. Heavy woollens required during the remaining part of the year.

Tourist Offices

Jammu and Kashmir Tourist Office 25, North Wing, World Trade Centre, Cuffe Parade, Colaba, Mumbai-400005, India. Tel : +91-22-2189040/2186172

Jammu and Kashmir Tourist Office, Vir Marg, Jammu-180001, India Tel: +91-0191-544527/548172

For any suggestions/complaints, you can write to :
The Chief Executive Officer, Shri Mata Vaishno Devi Shrine Board, Katra, J&K, India

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Editor: Romola Butalia       (c) India Travelogue. All rights reserved.